UNESCO Communication and Information Programme
Our ongoing and past activities:
The Communication and Information sector of UNESCO focuses on six programmes:
Creating an enabling environment for freedom of expression, press freedom, and freedom of information
Support for development of free, independent and pluralistic media
International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC): Media projects and Special Initiatives
Access to information and knowledge
Institutional Excellence in Journalism Education
Interdisciplinary Programmes lead by Communication and Information Sector:
ICTs in education, science and culture
Gallery: the mobile digital library in pictures:
2016 World Radio Day Celebrations
The Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO in close collaboration with Mafeteng Community radio celebrated the 2016 World Radio Day on Wednesday 24th February, 2016 in the form of a seminar that attracted the entire media fraternity and some NGO’s and international organisations in the country.
This year’s internationally agreed theme on which the general debates centred on was “Radio in times of disaster and emergencies”. Other sub- themes discussed were: Freedom of expression and Journalists’ safety should be disaster proof; Radio saves lives; and the immediate accessibility of radio frequencies is essential in saving lives. The frequencies should be protected
in times of emergency.
Stakeholders that were invited to make presentations related to the above themes were: Disaster Management Authority-Lesotho (DMA); Red Cross; Media Institute of Southern Africa-Lesotho Chapter (MISA-Lesotho) and Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA).
Above the rich discussions that the participants engaged in, the Communication and Information programme coordinator was invited on live broadcast interviews in a number of local radio’s to shed light on the importance of celebrating the World Radio Day. In some instances, listeners were asked to participate through telephone calls. Radio stations also took it upon themselves to broadcast World Radio Day messages on February 13th and during the time around the seminar.
The overall impression of the office is the Lesotho broadcast media has begun to seriously consider this day as a day on which they can reflect on their work and also to call on the government to consider their grievances especially related to policy matters and accessibility to the government owned radio transmitters that can enable them a wider coverage.
It is also believed that the seminar created a labelled ground to improve relations between radio journalists and all other organisations working on disasters and emergencies in the country and make them appreciate the unique value of radio in times of disaster and emergency as radio is the only medium so far that can reach the widest audience.
Income generation, entrepreneurship, marketing and financial management workshop and the commemoration of the 2016 World Press Freedom Day
In an effort to wrap up training activities at Mafeteng Community radio (MCR) within the framework of the UNESCO/ Swedish International Development Agency project, UNESCO Windhoek office sponsored two events in Lesotho between April and May, 2016. The first activity was just a buildup on strengthening sustainability of Mafeteng community radio through capacity building in income generation, entrepreneurship, marketing and financial management. The other activity was the commemoration of the 2016 World Press Freedom Day.
The workshop on the sustainability of MCR was facilitated by radio riverside (South Africa) station manager and marketing manager from 18th to 22nd April, 2016. About twenty participants including radio staff and members of the board took part in the workshop. The workshop sought to address MCR’s sustainability challenges and provide skills and knowledge on entrepreneurship and income generation. Furthermore, participants were exposed to various marketing strategies that could be explored within the district that can also enhance the sustainability of the station.
It can be argued that the above workshop has borne fruitful results for the radio station. This is premised on the fact that the station is now generating more revenue than before, hence brightening sustainability prospects. Some of the wide range of merchandise that the radio has for both marketing and revenue collection purposes include but not limited to the following: branded cups, key holders, beverages opener & caps. The station has also improved its daily programming which has in turn attracted more advertisements hence more revenue collection.
Mafeteng community radio was further involved in the organization of the WPFD as well as producing awareness messages to their listeners which were centred on this years’ theme: “ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMAS: THIS IS YOUR RIGHT!” This international day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 following a recommendation adopted at the 26th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991. This in turn was a response to a call by African journalists who in 1991 produced the landmark Windhoek Declaration on media and independence.
In Lesotho, for the past few years this day was celebrated by launching community radios funded by UNESCO. Similarly, this years celebrations on the 7th May in the district of Quthing were symbolized with handing over of community radio equipment to the district community by Media Institute of Southern Africa- Lesotho Chapter (MISA Lesotho) support under its project: Access to information Through Establishment of Community Radio Stations, financially supported by Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA).
The district was selected to contribute to the preservation of its multi- linguistics’ nature and cultural diversity. Quthing district has three main tribes, Baphuthi, Xhosa and Thepu which each speak a different language.
The Media personnel present at the event pleaded with the government to ratify the media policy which has been tabled to the minister of communications and cabinet for over a decade now. Participants felt that the policy would guarantee freedom of expression and ensure that freedom of the media is effectively protected and promoted. However, there was a general feeling that the government felt that the policy will take away a lot of power from government.
Generally freedom of expression and freedom of the media are exercised in Lesotho even though there is no legislation that deals explicitly with such freedoms except the constitution which states that “every person shall be entitled to, and shall not be hindered in his enjoyment of freedom of expression; including freedom to hold opinions without interferences, freedom to receive ideas and information”…
Mobile Digital Library
LNCU has partnered with the National University of Lesotho in implementing a Mobile Digital Library project entitled “Distance and Rural Learner/Teacher Support Through Mobile Digital Mode”. This project is widely welcomed by rural high school’s pupils, teachers, part time learners as well as the villagers. The project provides digital and print information to students who reside in selected rural areas of the northern region of Lesotho as kind of places which lack library services entirely.
Part-time learners and ordinary people use this facility to borrow print materials and also research through the internet provided by the mobile van. This initiative is executed within the framework of UNESCO theme on “building Knowledge Societies” as one way of opening doors for Open Educational Resources, Free and Open Sources Software and Open and distance Learning.
Establishment of Moeling Community Radio
UNESCO supports the establishment of community radios across the African continent. This is normally done through a programme called “International Programme for the Development of Communication” (IPDC). In Lesotho two community radios have been set up under this programme, namely: Mafeteng Community Radio and now, the newly established Moeling Community Radio in Botha- Bothe district.
The hand over event of Moeling Community Radio was officiated by the Minister of Communications, Science and Technology- Hon Khotso Letsatsi in May 2015. Also present at the occasion were members of Parliament, Principal Chiefs, the Chief executive of the Lesotho Communications Authority, MISA Lesotho, members of the media fraternity in Lesotho and the entire Botha-Bothe community. The launch of this community radio was a very colourful event as it was characterized by traditional praise songs and dances.
The radio was thus officially handed over to the community by the Minister together with the Secretary General of the Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO. UNESCO contributed M18000, 00.00 (about 26 000.00USD) towards this project. In addition to financial support, the LNCU set aside some funds that have been used to provide training to the presenters on basic journalism skills as well as equipment training. Furthermore, the radio station has since been connected to the internet (WIFI).
Moeling radio first came in to existence in 2012, when a young boy aged 18 years and named Taoana Lerole used old scraps of radio parts and DVD players to set up a radio station. However his dream to have a radio station was shut down by the regulator by cutting it off the airwaves on grounds that it operated without a broadcasting license and that it was very risky for the young man to broadcast with an antenna that was mounted to the tree.
It was after a number of consultative meetings that members of the community held with the Lesotho National Commission for UNESCO that eventually prompted the re-establishment of Moeling Community Radio by UNESCO but now under the umbrella of the entire community not just an individual. Currently the radio has 15 presenters and it is guided by an 11 member board of directors who represent the Botha-Bothe community.